What Does SSID Stand For?

A wireless router placed against a white background.
SSID stands for "service set identifier" which is used to identify any given wireless network. NickS / Getty Images

SSID stands for "service set identifier," and it is used to uniquely identify any given Wi Fi network. You can think of it as the IP address for a wireless network. Every Wi Fi network that's set up needs to be identifiable by other devices on the network and for the internet traffic on that network.

Often, various networks overlap in the areas they cover, so without a distinct SSID for each, trying to send information would be chaotic at best and utterly dysfunctional at worst.

What Is an SSID?

The SSID itself is a string of characters — this includes letters, numbers, symbols, punctuation marks and even a blank spaces — with up to 32 characters in total.

Wi Fi networks can be either hidden or broadcast. If the SSID is broadcast, then anyone can find that network and hop on. However, if the SSID is hidden, a user must know the exact SSID to jump on that Wi Fi network.

Why Is the SSID Important?

Whether you're at home, at work, or in a public space with a Wi Fi device, most people nowadays use Wi Fi networks to connect to the internet. The SSID system allows for all those networks and devices to "communicate" with each other and keep the internet traffic flowing.

Where Can I Find My SSID?

Finding your network's SSID depends on what device you're using. It's usually a straightforward process, but there are variations that exist from one device to another, as well as from one device's operating system to another's.

Finding the SSID on Your Router

Most wireless routers have their default SSID printed somewhere on the device. The router is a device that connects to your modem and then sends out a signal to connect your devices to the Wi Fi network.

Once you've identified your router, look on the back or bottom for a sticker. In most cases, the router's default SSID will be printed there, along with the password.

If you're not starting from scratch, or you're working with a router that's had the SSID changed from the default setting, the process requires a couple more steps.

Finding the SSID on Your Computer

Another quick work-around to find an SSID is to simply check your computer's wireless settings. If you click on the Wi Fi icon, it will bring down a list of available wireless router networks. Your SSID will be listed among them, usually first, as it will have the strongest signal.

Finding Your SSID Using Your Router's IP Address

The IP address, which stands for "internet protocol" address, is the ID number assigned to your specific device. Using an open browser on your computer, you can type in the IP address into the address bar. This will bring you to a Wi Fi settings page, where the SSID will be listed.

If you're having trouble connecting to the internet, you can connected your computer directly to the router via an ethernet cable. Then you can type in the router's IP address, which should allow you to log in and view your default SSID.

Note: Getting to the settings page may require an admin login and password, which is often also (but not always) printed on the wireless router.

Finding Your SSID on Your iPhone

If you're using an iPhone, you can find your SSID by going to the Settings app. If you clink on the Wi Fi icon, you'll see a list of nearby Wi Fi networks. Your Wi Fi SSID will be listed at the top (even if you're on a guest network), with a checkmark next to it.

Finding Your SSID on Your Android

If you're an Android user and you don't know your default SSID, navigate to your device's Wi Fi settings. Click on the Wi Fi tab. It will show you a list of the available Wi Fi networks, with the one you are connected to on top. It should also say "connected."

How Do I Change My SSID?

At some point you might decide you want to change your SSID. It might be because your default SSID is too hard to remember, or you want to assign a Wi Fi network name that stands out from the wireless networks in the nearby surroundings. Whatever the reason, it's a fairly straightforward process.

  1. Sign in to your router's administrative interface. Usually this will entail typing your router's IP address into the navigation bar on your browser.

  2. Go to the Wi Fi settings.

  3. Depending on the type of wireless router you have, you will see an option on the page to change your network name. It will also be possible to change your Wi Fi password.

Original article: What Does SSID Stand For?

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